Wed. Jul 17th, 2024

Emme and her groom were dancing when the hotel manager called her outside because someone needed her. Emma didn’t want her grandmother Martha to come over with a wedding gift, but she did. What she found inside the tiny box made her sneer, though, when she threw it.

Emma and Dylan, her new husband, danced around to the music of their first dance. They were happy and in love. The only bad thing about their moment was that Emma’s parents weren’t there to see how happy she was.

A weak cough broke the bubble, and Emma opened her eyes to see Mr. Scotliff, the boss of the hotel where the reception was held.

The manager began, “Please excuse the interruption.” He or she looked tense. “But there’s someone outside asking to see you, Mrs. Henderson.”

“Who?” Emma asked as she moved away from Dylan, who was frowning.

Mr. Scotliff went on, “She said she’s your grandmother.” “Martha.”

Dylan looked at her swiftly. “I’ll tell her to go.”

Emma sighed. “No, she’ll make a scene. I’ll go see what this is about.”

Martha was right outside, and her face brightened after spotting her granddaughter.

“You are the most beautiful bride. You look just perfect, darling,” Martha smiled, reaching for Emma’s hand, but the newly-married woman stepped back.

“What are you doing here? You weren’t invited for a reason,” Emma said tightly. “I don’t think you need to be reminded.”

“I know, Emma,” Martha responded, nodding gravely as tears gathered in her eyes. “I have to see my only granddaughter get married.”

“You need to go,” Emma continued, crossing her arms and holding her angry emotions in check. “My father would be here if it wasn’t for what you did. Wait, what you didn’t do.”

“I’m sorry, dear…” she whispered. “I do regret what I did. I only came over to give you a wedding gift, darling,” Martha approached Emma and handed her a jewelry box.

“This was all I could get you,” Granny said, holding Emma’s hands. “I hope you like it.”

“What is this?” Emma said disgustingly as she looked at the red jewelry box. “A tiny piece of cheap jewelry? How did you get it in the first place? Did you steal it from someone?”

“Oh dear, I—” Before Martha would finish, Emma cut her off.

“If it weren’t for your greed, my father would be here today! And he would’ve been the happiest to see me get married. He would walk me down the aisle, and…” Emma’s tears choked her as she continued. “Just get lost! I don’t want to see you ever again!”

“I hope you don’t hate me forever, sweetheart,” Martha said sadly. “Please know that I have always adored you.”

The older woman then walked away from Emma, leaning on her cane. As Emma stood there alone, she couldn’t help but think about the day that had planted so much hatred and disgust in her heart for Martha.

Emma was filled with disgust as she looked at the old jewelry box in her hands. “What an ugly thing!” she cried, throwing it away.

“Oh god!” Dylan gasped. “Why would you do that?”

The box snapped open as it landed on the ground, and a ring rolled out. Emma noticed the giant emerald stone on the ring had fallen off, and something spilled from under it.

Emma’s tears finally began to fall, remembering everything that led to this awful moment.

Many years ago, Emma saw in her father’s lawyer’s office. Mr. Morgan was a burly man with a no-nonsense attitude, so he got down to business.

“I don’t have good news, kid,” he started talking about her father’s case. Emma got a bit confused with the legal jargon but tried to keep up as best as possible.

The gist is that the people who had reported her father, Johnny, wanted compensation. Her jaw dropped when Mr. Morgan told her the amount.

“I don’t have that kind of money,” she said breathlessly. “Is there no other way?”

Mr. Morgan pursed his lips and shook his head. “If we don’t pay them, we’ll go to court, and Mr. Colby will most likely go to jail… for a very long time.”

“No!” she said.

“You need to find this money, kid. It’s the only way,” the older man continued, and Emma nodded.

“I’ll do it. I’ll find a way,” she replied, although she spoke more to herself than the lawyer.

Emma left Mr. Morgan’s office and quickly realized that she couldn’t get the money from any friend. Her credit wouldn’t help her get a loan from a bank either, so there was only one option: her grandmother, Martha.

“Emma?” The older woman was surprised to see an exhausted, panting Emma on her doorstep. “What’s happened to you, honey? Oh dear, you look so pale! Let me guess…it’s the lawyer! What did he say?”

She went into detail about her meeting with Mr. Morgan, the compensation amount, and more. When she finished, Martha sat beside her and grabbed her hand. “Dad will go to jail if we don’t pay.”

“Oh, Emma. I’m sorry, but I can’t help you,” Martha shook her head. “I don’t have that kind of money.”

“Yes, you can, Gran. Please,” Emma gulped. “If we sell the bakery, we will have more than enough.”

Martha’s eyes flared. “My bakery? It’s all I have, Emma. It’s my life’s work. I can’t sell it.”

“Gran!” Emma cried. “It’s about Dad! Do you want him to rot in prison?”

“No, honey. But I just can’t sell it. How would I live after?” Martha continued, her voice becoming firm. “Your father will certainly not support me. So, no, Emma. I will not sell.”

Emma pushed up from the couch, angry, fat tears falling from her eyes as her emotions got out of control. “If you don’t help us, I’ll never talk to you again. How can you abandon your family? I HATE YOU!” she ranted, screamed, and cried.

Martha only shook her head until Emma pulled herself together and walked away, slamming the door behind her.

Sadly, she had no way to raise the amount of money the plaintiff party wanted, and while Mr. Morgan did his best in court, her father went to prison.

Emma visited her father often, promising that she would never abandon him, for which he was grateful. But six months after his official sentence, she was shopping for groceries when her phone rang.

“Am I speaking with Mr. Colby’s daughter?” a man’s voice appeared on the other end of the line. “This is Inspector Harrison, ma’am.”

“Yes? What is this about?” Emma asked, frowning.

“I’m very sorry, ma’am,” he said. “Your father…I don’t know how to say this, but…he died late last night in his cell. It was a heart attack. He passed quickly.”

Emma’s shopping cart slammed into another customer, who wanted to scream at her but was too busy breaking down. Her legs gave out as she sat in the middle of the aisle and cried into her phone.

The subsequent errands and preparations, however, turned her heart to ice. When they cremated his body, she could only think that her grandmother let her father spend his last few days in jail and die alone. Emma would never be able to say goodbye.

“Emma! Emma!” Dylan’s voice snapped Emma out of her thoughts.

“Hmm, what?” she said, blinking rapidly and realizing she had hurt herself holding such a tight fist around the jewelry box.

“Where’s your grandmother?” he asked, grabbing her shoulders worriedly.

“She left…” Emma sighed. “For good. Let’s head inside.”

But her eyes want back to the box in her hands. Biting her lip tightly, she threw the box on the ground as hard as possible.

“Emma!” her new husband yelled. “Careful! What’s that?”

Emma barely paid attention to him because the box broke on impact, and a ring fell off. It was shiny with big rocks that looked… “Emma, is that diamond ring?” Dylan asked.

She knelt quickly, grabbing and examining it. “There’s no way. How could she afford this?”

Emma looked at the broken box and realized a tiny piece of folded paper was peaking out. She grabbed it and gasped as her grandmother’s words registered slowly.

Dear Emma,

I know you hate me for what I did, dear, but your father was not a nice man, Emma. He did terrible things and didn’t care about the consequences or the people he hurt. I told my daughter not to marry him, but she didn’t listen, and I know it’s his fault she didn’t want to live anymore.

I know I could’ve saved him from jail, but he didn’t deserve it. He also didn’t deserve such a loving daughter. There’s so much you don’t know, but I wanted to keep the bakery for you, not me. I hope you can understand what I did and why one day. Please, don’t hate me and take this ring as part of my wedding present. A lawyer will reach you about the other part.

Love you to the moon and back,

Gran.

“Oh God,” Emma covered her mouth, and her heart melted.

Emma drove quickly to her grandmother’s house the following day. She hadn’t been there in years. But strangely, she saw two big trucks right outside. Upon closer inspection, she realized people were moving into her grandmother’s house.

She got out, angrily asking for an explanation since it was Martha’s house. The movers didn’t know what she was talking about, but they told her the house had been sold recently.

Desperate for answers, Emma knocked on the door of Martha’s elderly neighbor, Judy. The old woman greeted her warmly and invited her inside.

“What are you doing here, darling? I miss Martha very much,” Judy said, her face soft and sympathetic.

Emma stopped abruptly. “What? What do you mean?”

“She moved weeks ago. Two or three, maybe. She told me she was selling the house to give it to you. It was after her diagnosis,” the old woman continued, confused.

“What?” Emma continued, confused.

“She didn’t tell you. Martha was diagnosed with skin cancer. Stage four,” Judy responded and began talking about her late mother, who died of the same thing years ago.

“Judy, I’m so sorry for being rude, but I need my grandmother immediately!” Emma interrupted her kind neighbor.

“Frank’s, I think,” Judy said, startled.

“Thanks,” Emma whispered and ran out to her car.

Frank’s was the local motel in their town, which used to be an excellent spot for pool vacations when Emma was little. However, things had changed, and it became a rundown spot with guests with nowhere else to go.

Emma ran to the reception and begged for Martha’s room number. The tired woman at the desk asked her to be specific, and Emma almost snapped at her.

“Oh, the grandmother,” the receptionist said. “Huh, let me get my manager.”

Emma’s hackles raised instinctively. “No! Give me her room. I have to talk to her now!”

“She died last night. Housekeeping found her earlier. The coroner already took the body away,” the receptionist answered awkwardly.

Emma’s eyes and nostrils flared as she stoically walked away, nodding maniacally and finally letting out an ear-curling scream.

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If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about a father who is mocked by his sons for being ‘deaf-mute’ while splitting the inheritance until he says, ‘My turn!’

This piece is inspired by stories from the everyday lives of our readers and writters.